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Western Muslims and the Future of Islam Paperback – September 15, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ramadan, named by Time magazine in 2000 as one of the 100 most important innovators of the coming century, argues that Islam can and should feel at home in the West. He takes stock of Islamic law and tradition to analyze whether Islam is in conflict with Western ideals; Ramadan is emphatic that there is no contradiction. He then spells out several key areas where Islam's universal principles can be "engaged" in the West, including education, interreligious dialogue, economic resistance and spirituality. Ramadan raises interesting issues about Islam's inherent critique of consumerism and its demanding spirituality, which "touches all the dimensions of life."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"In the spirit of interfaith dialogue, which Ramadan embraces, one might as well describe this book as a splendid practical catechism for Muslims in the West. There is much food for thought in it as well for non-Muslim majorities in the West and Muslim majorities in the Middle East. The book is at its best when it describes and interprets the recent explosion of accusations of witchcraft and other superstitions in the region and links them to the exercise of political power." --Foreign Affairs

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195183568
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195183566
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.9 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #726,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tariq Ramadan is Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at the Oxford University (Oriental Institute, St. Antony's College) and also teaches at the Oxford Faculty of Theology. He is Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies, (Qatar), Senior Research Fellow at Doshisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and Director of the Research Centre of Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE) (Doha, Qatar).

He holds an MA in Philosophy and French literature and PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Geneva. In Cairo, Egypt he received one-on-one intensive training in classic Islamic scholarship from Al-Azhar University scholars (ijazat in seven disciplines). Through his writings and lectures Tariq has contributed to the debate on the issues of Muslims in the West and Islamic revival in the Muslim world. He is active at academic and grassroots levels lecturing extensively throughout the world on theology, ethics, social justice, ecology and interfaith as well intercultural dialogue. He is President of the European think tank: European Muslim Network (EMN) in Brussels.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 57 people found the following review helpful By CoreyB on January 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Tariq Ramadan offers some practical advice for Muslims living in the West. He begins his discussion by explaining Islamic principles, shariah, and the desire for social justice and the common good. He explains how the old paradigms such as Darul-Islam (the abode of Islam) are no longer workable and states the need for contemporary Muslims to return to the authentic sources (the Qur'an and Hadeeth) in order to build practical models to meet today's environment, rather than to try to patch old, broken models developed by medieval scholars. He addresses many facets of daily life such as education, politics, and economics.
Ramadan's presentation offers Muslims some useful tools in order to begin this effort, but ultimately leaves concrete solutions for individuals and community leaders, leaving the door open to take into account the circumstances unique to each situation.
This is a worth-while read for the contemporary Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Lynne Roberts on September 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
Islamic philosopher Tariq Ramadan asks a fundamental question. Is it possible for a devout Muslim living here to also be a responsible and loyal American? As a member of what Ramadan calls the Other, I find it disturbing it even needs to be asked. It isn't trivial and Ramadan doesn't ask it on behalf of Muslims. He asks it of Muslims because they ask it of themselves. We have people living among us who are unsure of the answer, millions of them apparently, some of them second and third generation Americans. More than a few have concluded the answer is no. Their devotion to Islam supersedes and is incompatible with any duty to their adopted country. The question cuts to the heart of what Americans have been asking since 9/11. What on earth are these people so angry about and what in heavens name does it have to do with us? In attempting to answer Ramadan directs his comments to those Muslims living in the West for whom religion is at the center of daily life, Muslims who are struggling with a very real identity crisis. Ramadan isn't proposing an interfaith dialogue, though he thinks one is important. He is proposing an intra-faith dialogue. He wants to reopen a debate that has been closed for a thousand years.

At issue is the long held Islamic view of a world divided into two parts, dar al-Islam and dar al-harb, the abode of submission and the abode of war. This view didn't originate in the Koran or with the Prophet. It was developed later by Islamic scholars to offer a code of conduct for Muslims living in or traveling through areas not subject to Islamic rule, places where any exercise of an alien religion was usually restricted and often prohibited. Muslims in these conditions were called not to compromise their faith, to remain apart, at all costs to avoid assimilating.
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29 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Mazen Mahmoud Abdel-Rahman on January 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I believe this is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It was the first time a scholar elaborates on what it really means to be both Western and Muslim. He tackles just about every issue facing Muslims in the West - and while obvously not everyone will agree with him - he is the first one to really discuss these issues as far as I know.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sulaiman Syed on January 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is a somewhat heavy read to the average reader (especially to those who are not entirely familiar with Islam or Islamic history/philosophy/science). However, Ramadan does give a detailed depiction of the Islamic Ethos in Part I of the book, which is accompanied with some diagrams to aid the reader. Coming from a Muslims background, I would highly recommend this book to Muslims and those studying Islam. However, those who may be just learning the basics of Islam may find this text a bit complicated to digest...I would recommend starting with Reza Aslan's "No God but God" for a detailed historical overview of Islamic history as the history is filled with complexities and numerous viewpoints/debates.

Overall, this is a great book to add to your library. I will be reading Ramadan's "Radical Reform" book next.

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brian Griffith on May 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
Ramadan is a serious thinker, devoted to making a difference. He takes both his faith and his Western homeland seriously, and this for him is a single commitment to God and his neighbors. His concern is the quality of life in the future world order. And his vision for the potential contributions of Western Muslims is refreshing.

Where many Muslims assume that the practices of other cultures are ungodly unless proven otherwise, Ramadan turns such logic around. Like Imam Malik, he argues that all customs (urf) or institutions which "seek the good" (istislah) are valid, and should not be rejected unless they specifically violate a moral prohibition of the Quran and Sunna. In that case the challenge to Western Muslims is like that faced by the first Muslims in mainly non-Islamic Mecca, or by the biblical Joseph in Egypt - how to inspire better human relations, and improve care for society's needs.

Ramadan sees a special responsibility falling on Muslims in the West. Working within Western institutions yet maintaining real ties to the non-Western world, these believers have a chance to serve as a voice of conscience. In a world order of profound inequality, many Western Muslims have both the hope and the opportunity to make a difference. And to grasp that opportunity they must act as full-citizens, taking responsibility for building better institutions in cooperation with non-Muslims of goodwill. As Ramadan explores the possibilities for economic, political and cultural life, the future seems ever more interesting.

-author of Correcting Jesus
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